Things That Go Bump In The Nightie
I'm 25, and I recently married an incredible man. He satisfies me in every way imaginable, and our marriage is everything I'd hoped for. Yet, I'm often plagued by illicit dreams about my exes. Sometimes the "star" is a man I haven't thought about in years (although, thankfully, it's sometimes my husband). Is this normal? I wake up feeling like a filthy cheater, and like I should confess.
-- Dirty Dreaming
Let's say your head takes the night off from naked ex-boyfriends, and you find yourself dreaming about the aliens and their probe. Oh, no ... does that mean you aren't truly over the guy with the one big purple eye? Or, could it just be a message about your choice of nightcap: that you might try swapping in a glass of warm milk and Goodnight Moon for your regular mug of absinthe and hour of late-night vintage sci-fi?
Thanks to Freud, you're prone to believe your dreams are repressed desires for your exes when they could just as easily be X-rated mental lint. A growing body of evidence suggests Freud's famous book, The Interpretation of Dreams, might be more correctly titled The Misinterpretation of Dreams, or I'll Make A Bunch Of Stuff Up Because I'm Sex Mad, And Get Real Famous, And Make A Fortune.
Even now, nobody can say conclusively why we dream or what dreams mean, but in a 2005 lecture to sleep disorder patients, Stanford's Dr. Scott Leibowitz gave an overview of various theories: Dreams may be "a 'virtual reality' testing ground to simulate threatening scenarios in a safe place." They may integrate stuff we learn while awake, and/or help process negative emotions. They may contain extraneous information we need to dump -- or essential information we need to keep. My favorite theory, however, is by Harvard psychiatry prof J. Allan Hobson, who speculates in The Dreaming Brain that dreams "may occur, in part, to amuse us" -- and with none of the pesky legal ramifications of scaling the neighbor's chimney and tapping into his HBO.
Free entertainment? Of course, there's a catch. In Dreamland, there's no such thing as the remote. And since you can't change the channel, maybe it's dumb to feel guilty that you ended up watching Sex With The Exes instead of Killer Klowns From Outer Space or How To Decorate With Dried Pasta. But, is it "normal" to fantasize about other men? Boringly so. In a study by Drs. Thomas V. Hicks and Harold Leitenberg, 98 percent of men and 80 percent of women got it on in their heads during their waking hours with people other than their partners. Whaddya wanna bet 100 percent of the rest were lying?
You say you're satisfied "in every way imaginable," and call your marriage "everything I'd hoped for." Excuse me, but what's the problem? Face hurt from smiling too much? It is wise to live an "examined life," just not an examined-to-death life. You can read something into anything -- just as Freud decided patient "Dora" must've overheard her parents having sex (an incident she never recalled), and out of devoted love for her father, reproduced his heavy breathing by giving herself asthma. Why not concentrate on what you can control -- how you conduct yourself when you're awake? Should you feel the need to spice up that nonstop bliss with a little raging jealousy, go ahead and tell your husband Mr. Sandman's been pimping you out to your exes. Do, however, try to wait until he wakes up -- lest you come between him, your sister and your best friend.
I'm a single woman, late 20s, cute and social and all that, who's ready to meet a worthwhile guy. While I love a good martini, I'm not into the sloppy drunk bar scene. Then again, I'm not meeting guys at classes, the gym or the grocery store. Where's a girl to go?
-- Point Me
Technically, a guy in the grocery store could hit on you like a guy in the bar: "Hey there ... can I buy you that jar of peanut butter?" or "Have you heard celery is 90 percent water?" But, come on, wouldn't this go over better where the lights are low, liquor is served, and strangers are expected to chat each other up? People will tell you that you shouldn't try to meet men in bars. Why not? There are usually lots of men in bars. The point isn't avoiding bars, it's avoiding players and barflies. This takes recognizing that all bar hours are not equal. The ideal time to go is happy hour, when everybody's unwinding from work. Just take care to cut out before much-too-happy hour, when all the guys come back with their full frontal mack on. The bottom line: Leave a guy wanting more, not wanting more Jell-O shots out of your navel.